Apr 1, 2007 - Pets & Animals    1 Comment     2,338 views

Do guppies eat their young?

ASK! about Pets & Animals

Yes, adult guppies do eat their young. Hence, when rearing guppies, it is advisable to separate the new born from the adults. Why do they do that? In a confined environment such as an aquarium, guppies eat their young to control the population size. This is known as cannibalism. It is an animal instinct to ensure survival of the species by keeping adults that can breed to produce more offspring.

The World Book Encyclopedia Vol 8, Chicago, World Book Inc, 2001, pg 442 (Call No.: YR q031 WOR)

“cannibalism.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2007. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 13 Feb. 2007 .

Apart from guppies, there are other animals that exhibit similar behaviour. For instance, in certain ant species, injured juvenile ants are regularly eaten. When there is a shortage of food, healthy juvenile ants become the food source. Cannibalism also occurs in other forms of animal behaviour, such as animal courtship. A female may eat her mate to obtain nutrients to produce more eggs, which occurs with the praying mantis.
From Exploring the Secrets of Nature, London, Reader’s Digest Association, 1994, pg 273, (Call No.: R q591.5 EXP)

To find out more interesting facts about animals or breeding fishes, you may like to read the following books:

Science of animal life compiled by panel authors of Pintar Firus
Call No.: J English 591.5 SCI

The super simple guide to breeding freshwater fishes by Laura Muha
Call No.: 639.34 MUH -[ANI]

Guppies, mollies, platys, and other live-bearers : purchase, care, feeding, diseases, behavior [and] a special section on breeding by Harro Hieronimus ; drawings by Fritz W. Köhler ; consulting editor, Matthew M. Vriends ; [translated from the German by Rita and Robert Kimber]
Call No.: English 639.3753 HIE [ANI]

Please use our online catalogue to find out where you can find these materials. Encyclopaedia Britannica is an online database accessible via our Digital Library.

Answered by Ms Ang Mei Jun, Librarian, Adult and Young People’s Services

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1 Comment

  • I am thinking of getting Guppies and Sword Tails both to breed. Would a Sword Tail eat a Guppies babies or the other way around? Would both types of fish together be happy in a 17 cm round tank or would it need to be bigger?

    Thankyou Ruby

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